Plenty of people come to British Columbia just to fish salmon, but little do they know, “salmon” can be a pretty broad term. In reality, there are five kinds of Pacific salmon to fish for in British Columbia and anyone wanting to come fish should know what’s what, where to be and when to go depending on what kind they want to catch. Not sure what the five types are? No worries – We’ve got your back. Check out the list below of the five different types of Pacific Salmon in B.C.
Also known as keta, or dog salmon, the chum are the least sought after of the five salmon types. However, they tend to stick around the latest, so the late-season anglers will still have something to go for. Not only are they here late, they also make for a fun fight. Because of these reasons, they’re gaining in popularity. Weighing between 10lbs-20lbs, they’re a decent size, especially compared to Pink salmon, and they are fun to catch by float fishing, or jigging. They’re blue/green on top, slender in build and have a silver stomach. Chum salmon are incredibly abundant, and can be found in nearly any salmon spawning river in B.C.
Pink salmon are the smallest of the five, reaching an average weight of about 3-10lbs. They’re also called humpback salmon, thanks to the prominent bump that appears on their backs during spawning. They’re great for trolling and casting, and are an amateur and beginner fly fisherman’s dream. Timing their run is a bit trickier, as they typically go in odd numbered years, arriving earlier in certain areas than others. In B.C. they appear earlier in the lower mainland – Howe Sound and Squamish – and later in the Fraser Valley. On Vancouver Island, they’re typically around the east coast from July to September.
Kokanee, or red salmon, are some of the best eating fish to find. Their plump red meat isn’t why sockeye are also known as red salmon though – they’re red because that’s the colour their heads turn when spawning! Growing from about 6-15lbs, they’re a decent sized fish and have a fast bite. The largest run of Sockeye is in the Fraser River, but they can be found all the way to Prince George and over on Vancouver Island, too. If you want to learn more about fishing on Vancouver Island, pay a visit to www.discovervancouverisland.com/things-to-do/fishing/.
Coho come in pretty high demand, as they are acrobatic salmon with a fast run. At the same time, they’re not nearly as large as other salmon, typically weight about 6-10lbs. Their dark blue backs and silver sides have earned them the nicknames, “silver salmon,” or “bluebacks,” and they’re typically caught by trolling or casting. You’ll often see them performing flips and jumps out of the water, even if you’re fishing with downriggers. Rather than trying for these guys in the ocean, where their run arrives around June/July, most anglers like to test their luck in the rivers during the fall. Coho are around the rivers from Mid-September to December. Their unpredictable appetite makes them a bit of a tease, and keeps fishermen coming back again and again to put their skills to the test.
Known in the states as King salmon, you can bet which fish is the highest in demand. Indeed, chinook salmon are the king of the pacific salmon fishery, as the live the longest and are therefore the largest of the five types. Ranging from 18-40lbs, these are not fish you mess around on light tackle with. They’re strong fighters with a good hard bite and they’ll put your biceps to the test. Anything larger than 30lbs is known as a tyee, and this is the goal of most anglers every summer in B.C. The run arrives in June and usually disappears by October, dropping off drastically about mid-september. They’re blue-green and purple on their backs, with silver sides and giveaway black spots on their tails. There are plenty of places to angle for chinook, but the most popular is the west coast, such as Ucluelet or Tofino on Vancouver Island, as they are there between May and September, feeding aggressively on the copious amounts of baitfish in the area. For a good Ucluelet charter that will land some excellent chinook, check out www.salmoneye.net.
To learn more about salmon fishing in Canada as a whole, check out www.canadasalmonfishing.ca.